Originally Posted by MedSailor
Not off topic at all! I've seen those AIS beacons as well and think they have potential, but I'm not exactly sure how. I find that the problem with beacons of any sort (even a real EPIRB) is that SAR is usually delayed until they can be sure it is not a false alarm whereas a verbal declaration of MAYDAY always gets the ball rolling instantly.
The unique value of the AIS beacon is that IF your boat has an AIS receiver, the MoB beacon position is immediately plotted on your boat's chart plotter as soon as it goes off and the beacon's internal GPS determines the MoB lat/long. Those aboard will know the MoB's position, range and bearing from the boat from then on.
If the boat the MoB has fallen off DOES NOT have an AIS reciever, the AIS beacon is of much more limited value as it will only show up on other AIS equipped vessels within radio range (advertised as only 4 miles). All merchant vessesl above 350 tons must be equipped with AIS, but if you're way offshore you may not have a merchant vessel within range. Without an AIS on the MoBs vessel, the best bet is probably the PLBs that transmit the alarm and MoB position to shore-based stations via satelites. The MoB's rescue then is dependent on either 1/ comms being established between the SAR coordinator ashore and the MoB's vessel, which is probably the closest rescue platform available, or 2/ the shore based SAR coordinator launching a rescue with other available USCG or AMVER assets.